Oscar Pistorius cemented his status as the icon of the London Paralympics by winning gold in the final track event in the Olympic Stadium.
As for the star of the games, however, look no further than British wheelchair racer David Weir.
The man nicknamed the “Weirwolf of London” has become a household name in the host nation by triumphing in the 800m, 1,500m and 5,000m over the past week.
And he completed his clean sweep of golds yesterday, timing his sprint finish to perfection to win the wheelchair marathon in blazing sunshine along the streets of the capital in 1 hour, 30 minutes, 20 seconds.
Thousands of spectators lined the route of the marathon to cheer on the 33-year-old Weir, who was competing in his home city nearly five months after winning the London Marathon for the sixth time.
“It’s just amazing, I am lost for words,” Weir said. “I knew I had to be in some sort of super-human state to win four gold medals and I’ve done it.”
Pistorius’ resounding victory in the 400m on Saturday earned the competition’s poster boy his second gold medal of the Games, adding to a victory in the 4x100m relay in a week when he surrendered his 100m and 200m titles.
The South African double amputee is the world’s most famous Paralympian, transcending the world of disabled sport and this summer becoming the first athlete to take part in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Yet, he has been overshadowed in London by Weir, whose displays at the Olympic Stadium have been greeted by a so-called “Wall of Sound” from fans down the home straight. Many teammates also took to a ritual of howling as he crossed the line, in reference to his new moniker.
“To tell you the truth, every race I did in that stadium, I didn’t feel under pressure because the crowd was behind you if you won, lost or anything,” said Weir, whose image has adorned billboards throughout the Paralympics. “It didn’t matter what position you came in, they were still behind you and they still loved you.”
Weir, who along with swimmer Ellie Simmonds and cyclist Sarah Storey is the host country’s most famous current Paralympian, was the favorite for the marathon and was among a group of six racers that broke away early as the field sped past a host of London landmarks, including St Paul’s Cathedral and Buckingham Palace.
As the finish line came into sight, Weir was battling with Marcel Hug of Switzerland and Kurt Fearnley of Australia for gold, and the Briton pulled away to win by a second in a season’s best time.
“I did have lots of dreams of winning four gold medals, but I think everybody has those dreams,” Weir said. “I knew I was capable of doing it.”